Randy Dredging the Arkansas River, Colorado -- Aug 2014
Last Post 01 Feb 2017 04:17 AM by Michael Plessinger. 8 Replies.
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RANDY WITHAMUser is Offline
Sluicer
Sluicer
Posts:55



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25 Aug 2014 06:24 PM

    Greetings GPAA Gold Prospectors...

    Time for a summary Trip Report of my gold dredging exploits for the last 9+ days in the beautiful Arkansas River here in High Colorado, just North of Buena Vista about 15 miles North of town.  My prospecting buddies Bill & John were out for their big annual suction dredging trip and again invited me to join them on their claim that is permitted from the BLM for motorized ops/suction dredging...  

    Problem starting off this year is that last winter we had anywhere from 135% to 167% of average annual snowpack in the 14ers, soooooooooooo a LOT of snow melt and runoff this Spring and the Ark was still flowing higher and faster than average, so much so that when John got into town on 9 August we had to delay a day even getting our dredges into the river as the flow was too high/fast and dangerous to get our dredges across the river.  The water level was dropping slowly over time, the question was going to be "when" would it be low enough to get into the river?

    So, I took John sluicing local to a favorite spot of mine on 10 August and we spent about 3 hours 4-wheeling and sluicing and getting some fine gold.  After lunch we headed back to the river and decided it was a bit lower and we suited up and unloaded out dredges off our trailers, assembled them and floated the from the parking lot area to the river and the 2 of us were just able to safely float our dredges to the far side of the river where we wanted to start working some gravel bars along the side of the river, out of the deep, fast current.  I had not planned to do any dredging on this day, just get everything setup to start suction dredging come the next day, Monday the 11th of August.

    I had a meeting with a friend that next day, but John got started on his dredging adventure and I joined him the following day, Tuesday the 12th of August.  My first location was right along the side of the river bank, where there were large cobbles and rocks and the fast water was just a few feet away.  Sample pans showed good color, so I dredged for aslmost 3 hours with my new Keene ultra mini 4 incher and upon my very first cleanup I quickly sample panned up some of my cons to see if in fact that single stage sluice box on my dredge could actually catch the fine flood gold we have here in the Ark.  YEP!  I was happy to see some nice flakes & fines in my black sand cons.   :wink:

    Randy's first dredged gold:

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4017_zps628a7e26.jpg.html][/url]

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4018_zps8638ad9c.jpg.html][/url]

    First day's cleanup....2.60 grams!

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4023_zpsb936f007.jpg.html][/url]

    Second day cleanup was 1.73 grams...

    I ended up working this area for 2 full days and decided to move down river into the fast water where Bill had been finding some very nice flakes and larger flood gold.  That turned out to be a bit of a bad decision, as Bill had a air system and regulator and could get deep, under water and fight the strong current.  I was long arming it with a mask & snorkel and the fast water kept pulling my mask down, I had water leaking in, and when I eventually got about 2 + feet down to get to the clay layer with the best gold, I simply couldn't keep the big rocks out of my nozzle and avoid rock jams.  Anyone that's dredged knows getting out of a dredge hole in fast water wearing a weight belt and slip/slide back to your dredge to unjam a rock jam and get back to dredging knows it's EXHAUSTING!  I took a lunch break, recouped my energy, went back to dredging for maybe 45 more minutes.  I decided I'd do a cleanup, see how I was doing.  Sadly, not very good.  Maybe .25 of a gram.  So, I decided to break my dredge down, move back over the channel and up to my previous spot and keep dredging that clay layer I'd worked the first 2 days. 

    My dredge on the river:

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4038_zpsb429c52b.jpg.html][/url]

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4030_zps0e6fd51f.jpg.html][/url]

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4035_zps6facb518.jpg.html][/url]

    My best dredge hole along the river bank:

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4036_zpsdf058abb.jpg.html][/url]

    Once I moved John & I reclaimed this area by backfilling with logs and rocks...  Looked great.

    Day 3 at my dredge hole proved good, ended up with 1.65 grams, but I'd basically run out of material, so I broke the dredge down again and floated it WAY down river to the bottom of the claim to work a gravel bar that showed promise.  NOT easy getting my dredge there, but I did it.  Once there I basically started suction dredging a small channel chasing a rusty orangish layer of gravels full of black sand.  I ran up the bar between the grass line and the cobbles towards the top of the bar on my first day at this spot, then on the second day worked the bottom of the bar and on the third day I punched several holes in the bar itself and ended up working the top of the bar out towards the fast water. 

    My dredge:

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4039_zps3235b6fa.jpg.html][/url]

    First day dredge hole chasing an orangish gravel layer:

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4040_zps9f39f3f7.jpg.html][/url]

    My total take here was real good, averaging 2.28 grams a day!

    BY the end of 3 days in this spot I'd run out of material to work that was worth working, based on my sample panning.  So, John helped me break my dredge down and drag it up river, over the rocks and current to a spot below where Bill was working and where I'd left on Day 3.  I hoped that since the river had now dropped and slowed dramatically, I'd be able to better dredge out deeper and work well with only a mask & snorkel.  As it turned out, I was able to dredge better, with 2 runs of about 2 hours total, but in this spot I couldn't get down to the clay layer, so once again, on my cleanup I only got about .25 grams.  Hmmmm.......

    I only had one last day the next day to dredge, and so I went off sample panning...  I finally came across a spot at the end of the BIG gravel bar/island that the bank material at the waters edge showed good color, although it was very fine stuff.  Still, it was worth dredging.  So, I broke my dredge down again and floated it back down the river a short distance and setup for my last 1/2 day of dredging on Wednesday 20 August.

    Come that Wednesday morning I was up early, got to the river and got to dredging early, as the plan was to run until about noon, cleanup, break all our dredges down and drag them all over to the parking lot and load them back onto our trailers and call it done.  I worked the gravels beside the bar and my buddy Bill decided to help me work that 30 foot section, as it was very overcast, dark and the water seemed colder than usual.  I was warm, on my knees and no mask/snorkel required.  So, Bill & I pitched rocks fed material down out little waterway into my dredge nozzle waiting at the bottom for about 3 good hours.  Upon cleanup we gat a nice 1.65 grams of very fine flood gold for our "hard fun".

    After this first & last cleanup, we were officially "done".  We all drug our dredges up and across the river, loaded up and headed home.  Man...............was I ever whipped!  a 4 inch suction dredge on a fast moving river being operated my just 1 guy is a lot of effort.  But, that said, once I did all my cons cleanups and totaled up all I got from 9 days dredging total, and 7 of those productive days, I ended up with a very nice 14.97 grams of fine Arkansas River flood gold!

    [url=http://s570.photobucket.com/user/C-17A/media/Dredging%20the%20Ark%20with%20Bill%20and%20John%20-%20Aug%202014/DSCN4048_zpsbe052177.jpg.html][/url]

    May old camera was freaking out most of the time......wouldn't focus well, come on, take pictures at times or do video, so I only got 1 video made on Day 3, which was 14 August:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52XJp9-2DiU&feature=youtu.be    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52XJp9-2DiU&feature=em-upload_owner

    In summary, I had a blast with my good friends, Bill and John, got to put a lot of hours on my new Keene ultra mini 4 inch suction dredge and ended up with some good gold!  

    Hopefully, you'll get out soon too, before Fall arrives and create a "Gold Adventure" of your own...   :wink:

    God bless,

    Randy  "C-17A"         http://www.goldadventures.biz

    WILLIAM HALLUser is Offline
    Lost Dutchman
    Lost Dutchman
    Posts:356



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    28 Aug 2014 04:34 PM
    Great story Randy.

    I wish we here in California had a problem with 'too much water', besides the fact we cant EFn dredge, even if we Efn did have water.....

    The pics don't show for me. Checked out your photobucket page, very nice.

    14.9grm is not at all bad.....SON good job







    Bill
    So much river....So little time....Get out there
    RANDY WITHAMUser is Offline
    Sluicer
    Sluicer
    Posts:55



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    30 Aug 2014 08:39 AM
    William,

    Thanks for looking...

    Yeah, ever since we got forced over to this new GPAA Forum none of my pics show up. NO idea why. Same PhotoBucket URLs I have used here for years. They post & show perfectly on all the other prospecting Forums I post on......including my Forum......just not here on the GPAA Forum. I tried all sorts of variations, gave up.

    Maybe check out all my other past Trip Reports under "Trip Reports", by state and my last 2 year's worth under "Western Gold States" on my web site Forum: http://goldadventures.createforumhosting.com/

    Cheers,

    Randy Witham "C-17A"
    BRAD HUTCHESONUser is Offline
    Greenhorn
    Greenhorn
    Posts:1



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    30 Aug 2014 08:47 PM
    Randy - I'm a GPAA member and been waiting for the Arkansas to drop so I can sluice. I've been working the Texas creek most of the summer and found nothing. Was the place you went on public or on a GPAA claim? Looking to be in this area tomorrow and Monday and any and all help would be appreciated.

    Brad Hutcheson
    Colorado Springs CO
    719-373-9631
    RANDY WITHAMUser is Offline
    Sluicer
    Sluicer
    Posts:55



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    31 Aug 2014 09:16 AM

    Brad,

    Thanks for the inquiry...

    We're all set for tomorrow...........  1/2 day on the Arkansas River and 1/2 day up at cache Creek.  We'll find you some gold, get you off to a great prospecting start.  ; )

    Cheers,

    Randy Witham  C-17A   www.goldadventures.biz

     

    WILLIAM HALLUser is Offline
    Lost Dutchman
    Lost Dutchman
    Posts:356



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    02 Sep 2014 04:02 PM
    Randy,
    In one of the sub fourms they explained what has to be done in relation to posting pics.
    Did a quick look through but did not see the article.
    My bet is the pics are to big = to many megs


    Bill
    So much river....So little time....Get out there
    Frank SprungUser is Offline
    Greenhorn
    Greenhorn
    Posts:4



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    10 May 2016 10:36 AM

    So I called the royal gorge field office to day to see about dredging on the Arkansas group and they said that the club has not filled paper work for anything but a casual claim. The did say they can upgrade it and all they have to do is file the voluntary notice form and voluntary plan of operations and a have a bond. any one can do this if they have permission from the club to do it he said. Here is the web site he sent me to http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/rgfo...erals.html every thing to fill out is there he said.

    ROBERT GALYANUser is Offline
    Sluicer
    Sluicer
    Posts:56



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    24 Jun 2016 07:14 AM
    With the runoff this year I would imagine it will be about the same as it was in 2014.
    Great report.
    Oh, and thanks for the reply earlier. I looked at your site, its nice.. keep it up!

    Michael PlessingerUser is Offline
    Greenhorn
    Greenhorn
    Posts:15



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    01 Feb 2017 04:17 AM
    Hello randy my name is michael and i am a gpaa member and am in desperate need of a place and a person to help me learn how to use my 4 inch keene dredge, it was a gift from a gentleman that i look after from time to time. Im planning my honeymoon trip in may to Georgia for the loud mine meeting and gold n grubbin mine with my wife and daughter and her boyfriend. Im trying to learn how to use it properly, im going to get a permit for point bar area and one for FairPlay beach. But i have been treasure hunting for about 20 years. I have plenty of equipment. 4 inch dredge, 4 ft sluice, miller water table,pans, classifiers, and 9 metal detectors, one is an underwater good up to 125ft. Im trying to learn my dredge so i can take it with me. If you can help i live in hartsel im only an hour away from gpaa claim in bv. But if im on someone else's claim while learning they could keep what they want out of my dredge for helping learn and allowing me on there claim. Thanks michael. Call or text 7203224588 live long and prospect.
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